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What Is Hard Seltzer and How Much Alcohol Does Each Brand Have?

If you've been living under a rock for the last few years, a lot has happened. There's been a global pandemic, an Oscar slap heard 'round the world, and a few political shakeups. But most important has been the hard seltzer revolution. This sparkling beverage craze (aka spiked seltzer or hard sparkling water) has become the hottest drink in America. But what is hard seltzer?

Flavored seltzer waters have been a tasty way to drink more water while keeping to low calories or even no calories. But when that carbonated water is combined with alcohol and fruit flavoring or fruit juice, the result is an alcoholic seltzer full of flavor and just the right amount of buzz.

What Type of Alcohol Is in Hard Seltzer?


The most common alcohol is fermented cane sugar with those refreshing fruity flavors added in. Other ways to create that buzz is with distilled corn, malted barley, or champagne brewers yeast.

The Reason Why People Drink Hard Seltzer

Person's hand holding a container of White Claw brand hard seltzer in an outdoor setting, Lafayette, California, December 8, 2021. Photo courtesy Sftm. (Photo by Gado/Getty Images)

Getty Images/Gado

The association with healthy harmless seltzer helps with the marketing for sure. Healthier than many alcoholic beverages, hard seltzer has a lower alcoholic content, lower-calorie count, and lower carbohydrate count.

Beer drinkers enjoy holding that can that still has that satisfying fizzy mouthfeel but with fewer calories. The promise of natural fruit flavors makes health-conscious consumers feel good about throwing back a cooler full of these beauties all in the name of wellness

ABV in Popular Hard Seltzer Brands

what is hard seltzer

White Claw

White Claw set the bar high for hard seltzer sales. Originally debuting with a 5% ABV and flavors like grapefruit, passionfruit, and black cherry, White Claw Surge is a new incarnation on the hard seltzer market. Surge comes in a 4oz larger can than the original 12oz and comes in at 8% ABV for more poolside buzz.


Truly is proud of their 30+ flavors and 1 gram of sugar, all coming in under 110 calories. Their ABV is that sweet spot of 5% but like White Claw, they've released an 8% ABV version called Truly Extra. All versions of Truly are proudly gluten free.

Topo Chico

Topo Chico Hard Seltzer is an offshoot of the same brand's famous mineral water. Some of their flavors include Tangy Lemon Lime, Tropical Mango, Strawberry Guava, and Exotic Pineapple. Their Margarita Hard Seltzer has flavors of salt, lime, fruity flavors and tequila flavoring. They all come in at about 100 calories, 2 grams of sugar and a pleasantly low ABV of 4.5%.

Bud Light

Lemon lime, black cherry, mango, and strawberry flavors keep this hard seltzer simple and satisfying, just like a regular Bud Light beer. One hundred calories, under 1 gram of sugar, and truly low carb at just 2 grams per can, the ABV is a standard 5%.

Bon Viv

Impressive stats and exotic natural flavors like raspberry dragonfruit and clementine hibiscus make this brand one of the best hard seltzers on the market. Gluten free, zero sugar, and only 90 calories, Bon Viv uses champagne yeast and natural fruit flavors to get to their final ABV of 4.5%.


Vizzy Hard Seltzer really plays the wellness card by adding antioxidant vitamin C with the use of the acerola superfruit in its recipe. Vizzy is also gluten free, 100 calories, and has only 2 grams of carbohydrates, and 2 grams sugar. Flavors like passionfruit watermelon and peach lemonade make this a delicious way to enjoy the 5% ABV.


PBR is an American classic beer. So why not enjoy their Hard Peach Tea with 4% ABV and that same blue ribbon on the can. If you've had an especially rough day, Pabst understands. That's why they've created Stronger Seltzer with 8% ABV and flavors of wild berry or refreshing lime.

Wild Basin

From the brewer of Oskar Blues beer, Wild Basin has a thing for hard lemonades and hard teas in addition to hard seltzer flavors of cucumber peach, blueberry mango, and yumberry (which is actually a REAL berry). No matter what you choose from this environmentally charitable brewery, all their offerings are vegan and gluten free in addition the 5% ABV.

READ: Popular Hard Seltzer Brands Ranked From Best to Worst